Lessons Learned: Tokyo Sarin Gas Attack
Videos

Lessons Learned: Tokyo Sarin Gas Attack

March 20, 2012 12:38 pm (EST)

Lessons Learned: Tokyo Sarin Gas Attack
Explainer Video

On March 20, 1995, Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult based in Japan, used chemical weapons in a terrorist attack on Tokyo’s subway system. During the morning rush hour, five cult members carried bags of liquid sarin into Tokyo’s subway and pierced the bags with the tips of their umbrellas, allowing the deadly nerve agent to evaporate and spread. The attack killed twelve people and injured thousands more.

More From Our Experts

James M. Lindsay, CFR’s senior vice president and director of studies, argues that the 1995 sarin gas attack serves as a reminder that technology now "makes it possible for groups and individuals to carry out the kinds of attacks that once only government could undertake." Concerns over the spread of such technology, he says, lie at the heart of the current debate surrounding the manipulation of the H5N1 bird flu virus in laboratories. Such debates will continue to "grow more heated," he predicts, "as technological advances make it possible to do more and more with less and less training."

This video is part of Lessons Learned, a series dedicated to exploring historical events and examining their meaning in the context of foreign relations today.

More From Our Experts

Top Stories on CFR

United States

New U.S. Census Bureau data shows the United States importing more goods from Mexico than from China. Will the shift change the global trading landscape?

Russia

Russia

Vladimir Putin’s grip on power in Russia does not appear as ironclad as it once did. Liana Fix and Maria Snegovaya recommend that the United States prepare for potential leadership change in Moscow and develop response strategies with its allies to mitigate fallout.